Is there a proverb for "when one starts shaping up after losing many times". For example, I have failed in Maths Test many times, but now I am taking it serious and working hard to pass next time. The essence is that, we react after having much loss, rather than taking actions before.

Moreover, that proverb can be like the situation when a frog keeps regulating their body temperature in the boiling water, but in the end gets cooked.

There's a proverb in Urdu:

‎‏ﺁ ﺑﮯ ﺳﻮﻧﭩﮯ ﺗﯿﺮﯼ ﺑﺎﺭﯼ‘ ﮐﺎﻥ ﭼﮭﻮﮌ ﮐﻨﭙﭩﯽ ﻣﺎﺭﯼ

Translation: to shape up after having much loss, or continuous failure.

In addition, I thought that the following words would define it but not pretty sure about it as it looks like a quote:

"never leave for tomorrow that which you can do today."

I hope there's a English proverb for which I am asking here.

  • "Administers" isn't idiomatic (or clear) in the sense that you're using it here. I think you mean something along the lines of "works to improve" or "shapes up"... – Laurel Nov 8 '18 at 17:06
  • @Laurel, exactly, I mean 'works to improve'. So can you please suggest a single-worded verb for it? – Ahmed Nov 8 '18 at 17:08
  • "single-worded verb" or proverb? How do you like the answer below? "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" – Zebrafish Nov 8 '18 at 18:20
  • "Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward" - Vernon Sanders Law – samgak Nov 8 '18 at 19:24
  • @Zebrafish, I was requesting single-worded verb substitute to the verb administer which I misused in title and the body of my question. Overall, I am surely requesting a proverb here, nether verb and nor any idiom. – Ahmed Nov 9 '18 at 2:30

"If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again."

Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland, is meant to have told his troops this shortly before walloping the English at Bannockburn in 1314. It appears to be a legend based on prior stories about Bruce's ally the infamous 'Black' Douglas, but was modified by Sir Walter Scott c 1828 and immortalised in "Tales of a Grandfather" . The earliest verifiable source of the modern phrasing seems to be a poem, Perseverance or Try Again by William Hickson which appeared as a song in his book "The Singing Master" 8 years later in 1836. Available for slightly delayed delivery on Amazon

Included 4 years later by Thomas H. Palmer in his Teacher's Manual, the stanza

'Tis a lesson you should heed, Try, try again. If at first you don't succeed, Try, try again.'

Is classed as a proverb.

More recently as said to me by my parents

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Children are often reminded of the tale in the same way as a fable.

After fighting long battles with the English for control of Scotland. He was defeated in battle many times and eventually ran away to a remote island off the coast of Ireland where he lived in a cave. One day, while sitting depressed in the corner of the cave, he watched a spider trying to start to weave a web. The spider launched itself across the cave to reach the other side and start to spin the web. Time and time again the spider failed to reach the other side of the cave, almost reaching his goal. But it didn’t give up and kept trying.

When a teacher wanted a better result from a student it was not uncommon for them whilst handing an exercise book back to simply say

"If at first!"

and I or my peers would instantly know we were expected to resubmit.

More recent examples of the same celtic sentiment to keep getting up in the face of adversity are

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"

attributed 1954 to Frank Leahy (Fighting Irish coach) in the Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

by Nobel Laureate, Samuel Beckett, in his short story, Worstward Ho (1983).

  • I don't buy the 1314 story of the expression since the corresponding senses of "try" and "succeed" don't seem to have existed that early, assuming we're both talking about English. But if you have evidence for it I'd be willing to see it. – Laurel Nov 8 '18 at 20:40
  • @Laurel your correct it seems to be written 1836 – K J Nov 8 '18 at 22:50

It's not an exact match, but a similar concept is given by the idiom turn over a new leaf.

Idioms by Free Dictionary gives us the meaning: "To change one's behavior, usually in a positive way." And Bloomsbury International provides the origin: "In the 1500s, people called pages in books ‘leaves’. When they turned over a new leaf, they were really turning to a blank page in their book to start writing something new."

Your history of bad scores have motivated you to turn over a new leaf in regards to your study habits. I hope it works out for you- both the idiom and your future studies.


For your proverb request, consider: Little strokes fell great oaks.. Dictionary.com

Persistent in efforts, one can accomplish great feats.

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